The hustle and bustle at Discount Liquor
Holiday season a busy time at longtime Waukesha business

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

Dec. 10, 2015

Brad Champine restocks a wine display on Wednesday at Discount Liquor in downtown Waukesha.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA - For many area residents, shopping for the holiday season involves a stop at Discount Liquor to buy gifts or for entertaining. At peak times, the parking lot is overflowing and four lines form in the store as customers wait to check out.

Despite the hustle and bustle of the Christmas shopping season permeating Discount Liquor, much of the family owned business’s operations remain the same. One of the family owners, Frank Greguska Jr., said friends will help pack up sales and assist customers to their cars. There is also additional help from area college students.

Greguska said hours remain mostly the same, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, except Sunday which is normally 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; however, the store will generally be open longer the two Sundays before Christmas to accommodate customers’ needs.

Craft beers line an aisle at Discount Liquor in downtown Waukesha.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

While Discount Liquor has become a local landmark and is often a location used to give directions, Greguska said shoppers come from way beyond the borders of Waukesha County. With the business’s ads going around the state, he said people drive all the way from Eagle River for liquor, beer or wine.

There are a few things that never change at Discount Liquor including the family ownership and the deals, Greguska said.

The goal is to always offer the best prices, and Discount Liquor will match competitors’ prices should someone find them lower.

The third generation of the Greguska family is also getting involved in the business operation, including Greguska’s son Matt and daughter Karen. The business was started by Irene and Frank Greguska Sr. in 1960 in Milwaukee. The location at 5031 W. Oklahoma Ave. is still owned and operated by the family. In 1978, the Greguskas opened the Waukesha store in the former Sears building. At the time, Greguska said. downtown Waukesha had many stores, but soon most of them closed and Discount Liquor was the primary draw for shoppers.

People’s tastes haven’t changed much since those early days, Greguska said. While three-martini lunches may be a thing of the past, he said liquor is still the top seller.

Craft beer sales have increased during the past years, which Greguska likes because it means supporting the state’s economy with major beer producers like Lakefront Brewery and New Glarus Brewing in Wisconsin.

“Those are the ones you want to survive because it’s part of the local economy,” he said.

Co-owner Michael Greguska oversees the wine department for the Waukesha store. He said there has been an increase in the sale of bottles of wine in the $20 category, primarily because “millennials drink better.”

Discount Liquor carries more than 8,000 wines, 3,500 liquors and 1,000 beers, Frank Greguska Jr. said.

On Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, one specialty beer brought people out in droves. Frank Greguska Jr. said there was a line of people waiting starting at 4 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to buy some limited edition imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels from Goose Island. The line stretched through the store and around the outside.

Even though the holidays are busy for Discount Liquor, its family owners and longtime staff, Frank Greguska Jr. say they still enjoy the season.

“We love helping people - that’s what we’re here,” he said.